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Powell Speaks at World Economic Conference

Aired June 22, 2003 - 08:04   ET


SOPHIA CHOI, CNN ANCHOR: And right now, let's go to Colin Powell, who is actually in Jordan. He's speaking now at the world economic conference. Let's listen in.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... definition has to be looked at in light of the consequences it will have to our ability to move forward. I don't know all the details on this incident -- I've only seen press reports concerning it -- but it is a matter of concern.

Having said that, it's so important for us to remain committed to moving forward and to remind the parties of the obligations they entered into in Aqaba. We can't allow ourselves to be stopped or to allow this process to come to an end because of these incidents. We have to keep moving forward.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Let me say that I think it is important that voices be heard when things are going on that we think should be corrected. The fact that one raises one's voice to try and change direction, to try and appeal to people to do the right, and the fact that it doesn't happen today does not mean that it's irrelevant and one should not speak up.

I think even the fact of individuals or third parties getting involved and saying, "Stop it," is enough. "The people don't deserve this, your people have had enough," is an important message. And I think we should keep raising our voices, even if it doesn't stop the fighting today or tomorrow.

POWELL: I agree with the secretary. It's not a matter of embarrassment, it's a matter of not allowing this kind of incident to stop us.

I regret it happened, I regret that we continue to find ourselves trapped in this action and counteraction, provocation and reaction to provocation.

And what we're trying to do with road map is to get both parties to start meeting their obligations and commitments under the road map and move forward.

We have had a start on that. We have had a start on the side of Israel by them taking down some of the outposts, by releasing prisoners. On the Palestinian side, we've seen a new seriousness with respect to doing something about terror and violence, with the prime minister speaking out clearly about the need to end the armed intifada.

We knew it shouldn't be easy, we knew it would not simply happen the day after Aqaba. We're two and a half weeks in, we're committed to moving forward, both sides are committed to moving forward, because what is the alternative to moving forward? Going back to where they were? I don't think that's an alternative. I don't think that's an alternative that the people of the region, be they Palestinian or Israelis, can accept and will accept.

And I hope that political leaders on both sides will understand the need to take actions as we move forward that will allow us to continue to move forward.

GEORGE PAPANDREOU, FOREIGN MINISTER OF GREECE: Could I just add the European voice, Javier and I here?

On this point, on this question, that we are, the quartet, standing here, saying that the international community is united in working toward peace, we are saying that we are not going to allow this process to be undermined, and that those who do want to undermine it are trying to undermine the political will of the international community.

We are acting together. There is a commitment to the road map, the commitment to the vision of two states, a viable Palestinian state and a safe Israel, and there is a need for action now, for the implementation.

And I would also say that the European Union very much has welcomed the acceptance from both sides of the road map, and very much has welcomed President Bush's commitments, statements and actions on this issue.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said you regret the killing of the Hamas leader, Kawasmi (ph), but if he is a terrorist, wouldn't it help to stop terror if Israel does the work, even to the Authority, the Palestinian Authority, by killing Hamas leaders?

And Mr. Papandreou, I would like to understand if the EU sees the difference between the military of the Hamas, the military people, or the political leaders of the Hamas, or are they all a part of the Hamas that is of course against the road map?

POWELL: I regret the continued loss of life. I regret the fact that as we are moving into this new period where a road map has been put in place that shows us how we can forward, how we can to the political objective that we all desire, we still see this kind of activity on both sides, which is essentially the cycle that has been going for a long period of time, that has led nowhere.

It has not led to peace. It has not led to security. It has not led to the prospect of two states of living side by side in peace. I regret that these incidents continue to happen.

I can't get into the details of whether this was a ticking-bomb incident or somebody who is responsible for ticking bombs. I don't know the details of the incident.

My regret is the fact that these incidents continue to occur and we continue to see this kind of loss of life. And we continue to see that with this unending cycle, we are not getting closer to the objective that we all have in mind and the objective that was discussed and committed to at Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. It's the incident that I regret.

I would much rather on a Sunday morning wake up to find that we are moving forward and it was not necessary to have this kind of activity on either side. That is my regret.

And we have to punch through this. We have to punch through this.

PAPANDREOU: First of all, we have very much been supporting Prime Abu Mazen's efforts in getting a cease-fire as a first step to a total disarmament, demilitarization of these groups.

And we have, in our statement yesterday from the Thessaloniki Summit, demanded that Hamas completely comply with this effort by Abu Mazen and have a total cease-fire. And we have also said that our ministerial council is urgently examining the whole issue of the funding of Hamas.

QUESTION: There has been a lot of focus in recent weeks on dealing with the security issue in Gaza in particular, the possibility of turning over all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. How much of a gamble is that at this point if the Palestinian Authority is not able to ensure security?

And alternatively, should there be a focus on the economic problems in the Gaza? Should there be funding provided to the Palestinian Authority so they can start building hospitals, providing college tuition and filling the role that Hamas now plays in Gaza as a first step, rather than putting so much of an emphasis -- all of the cards on the table at this point -- to have them prove themselves on security?

And I'd be interested if all interested parties addressed that.

POWELL: We are anxious to see a security arrangement reached where the Palestinian Authority can take control of Gaza and the Israelis can remove their forces. That will immediately open up Gaza for the kind of economic activity and humanitarian assistance that you describe. And it will also give the people of Gaza, I think, hope that their situation is improving.

Does it mean that we'll never, therefore, after that be an attack or anything that happens in Gaza or coming out of Gaza against Israel? Nobody can make that guarantee. And I think people understand that there will always be a level of risk as long as there are people who are committed to terrorism and are committed to not seeing two states living side by side in peace. And that exists whether Gaza is under the control of the Palestinians or the Israelis.

But if Palestinians are prepared to and have the capacity to take over security in Gaza, they have tools that they can bring to it. It's their land, and they know that they are trying to end terror and violence in their land, working with the Israelis, sharing of intelligence, sharing of information. But there will still always be the risk.

We should put the burden where it belongs: on terrorist organizations, organization such as Hamas. We can put blame elsewhere. We can talk about what the Israelis ought to be doing, what the Palestinian Authority ought to be doing. But it begins with putting the blame, first and foremost, on organization such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others which continue to conduct terrorist attacks requiring response from the Israeli side and keeping the day further away when the Palestinian people can find peace and security and we can help them to the kind of life that you are describing for them. And so the burden goes to those organizations who conduct terrorist acts.

In our meetings, we did discuss how we can help them. And the United States is providing another $50 million to the effort that you are familiar with. And the secretary general made an impassioned plea to all of us to do what we could in our own capacities and in our organizational capacities to help these desperate people who are in need.

And I would yield to my colleagues.

PAPANDREOU: Well, I think that what Secretary Powell has said is correct. The people in Gaza, they think -- the Palestinians in Gaza, they think they have the capability to taking the full responsibility for security. But at the same time, we have the obligation, and we have the obligation, international community, as well as Europeans are going to do it, to help them to develop the hospitals, the schools, et cetera.

But those both things should not be incompatible. You want to give them hope. They have to have hope that they can control the movement of their people, the security of their people. And at the same time, to have a development in the school, hospital, et cetera, and the quality of life that unfortunately now is not the type of life that we hope they will have in the future.

So both things have to be done. And we are ready to help in both the actions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just an analogy, what would you say about the analogy between what happened in '93, with Gaza-Jericho first, and what's happening today?

POWELL: I'm sorry, I can't hear.

QUESTION: I will repeat the question. The question was, what kind of analogy would you make between what is going on today in the Palestinian territories and what was going on 10 years ago in 1993 with the Gaza-Jericho, starting the Oslo process?

POWELL: An analogy? I'm not dealing in analogies today, I'm dealing with the situation that exists today.

And the situation that exists today is that we have a road map, we have a plan to go forward. We have a Palestinian Authority that is willing to take over responsibility in Gaza, and an Israeli government that is prepared to transfer responsibility to Gaza once a few security details are worked out.

And I hope that we will see that come to pass in the not-too- distant future.

PAPANDREOU: I only want to say that it's an historic opportunity. We must take it, and we here are determined to help.

ANNAN: You had a free ride.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We'll have copies of the written statement of the quartet available for you, I think, at the door.

CHOI: You've been listening to the quartet of Middle East mediators who are meeting right now as a sidebar, actually, at the World Economic Forum. You've been listening to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Secretary of State Colin Powell talking about the road map to Middle East peace.


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